Ottis Gibson has urged his Yorkshire players to make the most of their second chance in the Vitality Blast.
The Vikings have qualified for this week’s quarter-finals in fourth place in the North Group via a technicality, only because Leicestershire were docked two points for poor on-field discipline.
Their stroke of luck was magnified at Grace Road on Sunday through a 60-run defeat when, by their own admission, the Vikings’ performance wasn’t up to scratch.
Now, though, that will be put to one side as Gibson and co head to the Big Smoke on Wednesday to face South Group winners Surrey at the Kia Oval (6.30pm) in a bid to reach Finals Day for the third time and the first since 2016.
“Whether we deserve it or not, we’re in the quarter-finals,” said the coach. “Now we have to go and make the most of that chance.
“What happened to Leicester was very unfortunate. But that is not our concern.
“We had a very honest chat after that game, but everybody is of the same opinion. We can still go and do something very special.”
Gibson, as usual, was very honest in assessing the Leicester defeat, as captain David Willey was. The Foxes posted 211-7 before Yorkshire were bowled out for 151.
“Their bowlers executed their plans better, getting us to hit to the longer boundaries etc,” said the former. “We were 70 after the powerplay and played nicely. We should have chased that score down.
“We were disappointed. We knew what was at stake, and to be honest we didn’t turn up.”
Asked whether any of the fizz had been taken out of Yorkshire with news that they had already qualified before a ball was bowled, Gibson said: “No.
“We tried to make a real commitment to win the game and try to get a home quarter-final. So to play the way we did was really disappointing, as I say.
“We know we can play better because we have done it already in this competition.”
Heading to the Oval, both teams are in the same boat. They will be missing a host of England players due to a clash with the IT20 series against India, starting on Thursday.
Both captains are missing; Chris Jordan for Surrey and David Willey for Yorkshire.
Then, the hosts will also be missing Sam Curran, Jason Roy and Reece Topley and Yorkshire Harry Brook and Dawid Malan.
One significant positive from the Vikings’ point of view is that New Zealand opener Finn Allen is available to play before international duty in Ireland.
“We are missing so many players through England duty, but it gives guys sitting on the outside waiting to get in a great opportunity to show what they can do,” said Gibson.
“Hopefully, one of these guys such as Waitey or whoever it may be can go and put in a really solid performance and get us to Finals Day, which is what we’ve wanted to achieve this year.”
Surrey finished top of the South with 10 wins from 14 games, while Yorkshire finished fourth in the North with seven wins.
Nine of Surrey’s victories came in the first 10 games, also including a No Result.
While Yorkshire lost their last two games, Surrey also struggled at the back end of the group stage. They lost three of their last four games, including on Sunday against Somerset at Taunton when finishing on 171-9 in pursuit of 219.
Powerful opener Will Jacks is their leading run-scorer with 448 runs, including five half-centuries.
He is amongst the top 10 leading run-scorers in this season’s competition, behind Adam Lyth (518) and just ahead of Brook (434).
Jordan is their leading wicket-taker with 17, shortly followed by Topley with 15. But neither will play.
West Indian overseas spinner Sunil Narine is third on their list with 13.
Surrey, inaugural Blast winners in 2003, have signed Australian all-rounder Aaron Hardie as a second overseas player having lost West Indian Kieron Pollard through injury earlier in the competition.
“With the cricket that Surrey have played to top the South, I guess they will be fancied,” added Gibson. “But we know what we’re capable of.
“I have been encouraging the lads to play with freedom for the whole year.
“When we’ve done it, we’ve been outstanding. When we haven’t, for whatever reason – we’ve come unstuck. Leicester on Sunday was the prime example of that.”